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Study 4: God and Death
The Nature of Man | The Soul | The Spirit | Death Is Unconsciousness | The Resurrection | The Judgment | The Place of Reward: Heaven or Earth? | Responsibility To God | Hell | Digressions (Purgatory, Ghosts And Reincarnation, With What Nature Are We Raised?, The "Rapture") | Questions
Digression 12: Ghosts And Reincarnation
The belief that man continues living in the form of another person or animal being possessed by his spirit, was one of the earliest ways in which man tried to convince himself that death was not as final as it appeared.
We have shown that the spirit of man refers to the breath/life force within him, which returns to God when he dies (Ecc. 12:7). This means that his spirit is not moving around as a 'ghost', nor is it free to possess another person or animal so that the man's personality is continued through them. We will each be judged for our own works (2 Cor. 5:10). If our actions and characteristics are a function of a previous person's character, then this concept of God judging and rewarding us according to our works (Rev. 22:12) is made a nonsense.
The spirit returns to God at death, and all consciousness ceases. Any attempt to contact the dead therefore shows a serious misunderstanding of the ample Bible teaching concerning this (see Is. 8:19,20). The Bible is quite plain that people do not return to their previous houses or towns in any way after they are dead; there can be no such thing as a 'spirit' or 'ghost' haunting such a place after the person has died. Job 20:7-9 could not express this in more blunt terms: "(Man) shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He...shall not be found...The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place (house/town) any more behold him". Job 7:9,10 is similar: "He that goeth down to the grave...shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more". A humble acceptance of this will lead us to discount all claims to have seen the 'ghosts' of dead people, haunting their old houses. Such experiences must at best be tricks of the imagination.